Smell in aircraft cabin enacts emergency response at Comox Airport Saturday

WestJet flight 2181 bound for Comox Saturday landed normally at the Comox Airport despite the smell of smoke in the cabin. - Erin Haluschak
WestJet flight 2181 bound for Comox Saturday landed normally at the Comox Airport despite the smell of smoke in the cabin.
— image credit: Erin Haluschak

The smell of smoke on a Comox-bound WestJet flight late Saturday night enacted a first response protocol upon arrival at the Comox Airport, but the flight arrived safely and the airline confirms no emergency was called.

WestJet flight 2181 from Puerto Vallarta to Comox landed normally and on time, despite an abnormal odour from the cabin, said WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart.

“Out of an abundance of caution we did request emergency crews to be on scene although we did not declare an emergency into Comox,” she noted in an emailed statement.

Passenger James Clark explained the plane was about 90 minutes away from landing when the smell of smoke began to emerge in the cabin. He said the crew went through a checklist and determined the odour could be from the communication system.

“…That’s all they really told us. Everyone was pretty calm,” he told CTV Vancouver Island.

Other passengers credited the onboard crew who kept travellers calm.

Comox Airport CEO Fred Bigelow said everything was “pretty much routine operation as far as the airport was concerned.

“Our staff is at the ready along with other staff here that work for Westjet to help the passengers get off. In this case, it was a routine disembarkation using the regular stairs and regular landing.”

Firefighters from 19 Wing Comox along with military and civilian police were also present at the airport.

“The issue with these types of responses is that the airport, 19 Wing Comox and the air traffic control and the emergency personnel on the base like the firefighters, they have checklists to follow... air traffic control will initiate a checklist looking at what services they might need. Obviously they roll the firetrucks - they are out there on the runway just in case. But it looked like everything was in hand, but you wouldn’t want to take any chances,” Bigelow added.

He explained airport staff train regularly for a variety of incidents and emergencies, and credits the airport’s partnership with the base.

“…We’re really fortunate our landlord - 19 Wing Comox - that’s their bread and butter. We have crash and fire response personnel, air traffic controllers 24-hours a day, which is the only airport on Vancouver Island which has that kind of response capability with air traffic control here.”

WestJet confirms the original aircraft had been inspected, which resulted in a delay leaving Comox Sunday morning, but did depart for Calgary around noon.





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